March 31, 2010

It’s Never Too Late!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 10:43 am
In all these years I have been telling you about, I did do a little writing off and on, (mostly off).  I primarily did journal writing about my activities and thoughts that came up about them, or religious essays.  I was not writing anything that I felt could be publishable.  

So, back to my work background.  Syms had the new hires train at their Addison location until the new store was ready to move into. We took a train from downtown, if we didn’t drive, were met at the station and taken to the store.  We were reimbursed for our train fare.  After the training ended and the construction at the store was completed, we got to help clean, move merchandise into place and get ready for the store’s opening.  Employees from their East coast stores came in to coordinate the work.
I enjoyed working there, but their business was not what they had hoped for and it was decided that they would close the store after three years.  I wanted to look for a similar line of work, rather than go back into an office.  When I applied at Filene’s Basement, a former Syms manager was working there and he put in a recommendation for me, so I was hired.  I started part-time with the expectation that it would lead to full-time employment.  Later, however, I discovered that very few people there were ever put on full-time.  They had to reach supervisor status and most of the managers the store was hiring were not inside promotions.  I felt underutilized, under-appreciated and underpaid, so I eventually quit.  I was nearly 62 then and I had decided to take early retirement.  I will continue my story tomorrow. 

March 30, 2010

It’s Never Too Late!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 1:55 pm
I never really expected to stay at this company as long as I did.  Each time I had to leave one position I thought it would be the end of my time there but they continued to find new places to move me into.  The moves were all horizontal, however.  I was not advancing up the corporate ladder, which really did not interest me.  I had no desire to become a title examiner or underwriter.  I was a support person.  

When the company computerized, they no longer kept a policy typing department.  Each examiner had their own computer and was taught to use them to do their own title policies.  Those of us who had been doing that work were divided up between divisions of the company and assigned as clerical assistants and later turned into receptionists.  Temporary workers were also brought in for those positions.  The company discovered that these young people, right out of school, had more computer skills and could to do more than workers like me, who had been there for years.
At the age of 50, after 20 years of service, I was fired.  I signed an agreement that they would send me to an outsourcing firm for help in locating a new job if I did not try to sue them for age discrimination, which I had not thought of at that time.  Later, when I found out that no one wanted to hire workers my age, I was sorry that I had made that agreement.  The outsourcing service did show me how to create a resume, however, and I became more confident from meeting with them.
I was actually relieved to not be working.  Now I had no excuse to not write.  I had time for it, and anything else I wanted to do.  I had to look for work while collecting unemployment payments and even got an extension, but that time was very much like now, jobs were hard to find.  When I saw that a new store was going to open downtown and they were hiring I thought I would give that a try.  It would be a nice change for me.  I had never had a retail position.  I went to their hiring fair, took the tests and passed, and made it through the interview.  I was going to work for Syms, an off-priced clothing store. I had never heard of them, but they had a loyal following in the suburbs, where they were already located, and on the East coast.  They were opening their first Chicago store on Wabash Avenue.  More on that tomorrow.

March 29, 2010

It’s Never Too Late!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 2:19 pm
Back at home, I had to look for work again. I still wanted to get into some sort of media position and I got a job working for a hobby magazine.  It was a small magazine with a small closely knit staff and I enjoyed working with them even though I was not writing advertising as I had hoped to be doing.  Their circulation was shrinking and they had to get rid of staff, so of course being the last one hired I was the first to have to go.  The editor did, however, tell me about a recording studio and recommended me to them.  I was there for awhile, but I could not take the sexual teasing that went on and when I complained I was fired.  I was too young and naive to consider filing any kind of law suit against them, there were no other workers who I could have support me as a class action and when I was interviewed I had been warned that the atmosphere was not what I was used to.  I also really liked the staff and did not want to cause trouble, so I simply let it go and went on to look for other work.

That was when I wound up working at Chicago Title Insurance Company and Chicago Title Title and Trust Company, their affiliate.  When I started there I was in a small division and felt very comfortable.  We got along well and my manager had plans to have me trained to take on greater responsibility and move up, but the company decided they did not need that department.  That happened a couple of other times where either the whole department was closed or they had to downsize and I was the one who had to leave. I finally became a policy typist when they still used typewriters.  We had ones which would work in duplicate, as we typed another typewriter was automatically reproducing what we were typing so we had two copies.  Then the company computerized.  I will continue that part of the story tomorrow.  I know this is not about my writing, but I need to share this background to explain why it has taken me so long to follow my dream.    

March 28, 2010

It’s Never Too Late!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 7:56 pm
While I was still working at the law school, I was looking for opportunities to get into Christian service.  Somehow I found out about an organization called The Christian Service Corps.  It was modeled after the Peace Corps.  People would raise support from sponsors and go into a training program.  At the completion of the training they would be assigned to work for two year periods at a mission.  That would give these people a chance to see if they felt a call to become career missionaries.  If they did, and the mission they were at wanted them, they could stay on where they were.  If there were no full-time openings with that mission, they could return to the center and they would be given help to find another mission.  Generally the people who applied were either right out of high school or college.  I did not feel I wanted to leave the United States, but the information I got said that they were starting a television and radio broadcasting studio and needed writers, so I applied for that.  

I will spare you readers details of what transpired when I was at the headquarters of the CSC except to say that the plans for the broadcasts never did materialize and I never had the writing opportunity that I had expected.  I did clerical work in their office in Washington, D.C. and then was sent to Lancaster, PA to help with a Mennonite radio broadcasting station.  Having lived as an only child I was not accustomed to sharing rooms with others, as I had to at CSC and in PA, and I was not a good roommate.  Because of that, it was decided by the CSC staff that I should return home.
My father was not a Christian at the time and he was very upset that this organization had treated me in this manner.  However, I believed it was for the best of both the organization and myself.  I believed, and still do, that God works everything out for our good.  It did make me more cynical and less trusting, however.  If I keep writing about this I will end up giving details that need to be kept quiet, so I will end the blog entry at this point.    

March 27, 2010

It’s Never Too Late!

Filed under: Hobbies — ccassello @ 3:05 pm
Okay, I said was going to go into more detail about my background.  As I had said, I was giving up on the idea that I could really be a writer, but when I turned in an essay in high school and not only got a good grade but a written comment that I may have the talent to make a career of it, I was excited.  I was not just imaging that I had the talent, this teacher thought so too.  But, where would I ever get good ideas to write about?  I couldn’t come up with any.  I was getting discouraged again.   At this time I was also trying to determine what God wanted me to do with my life and was considering going into a full-time ministry. I was a Christian and was taught that the talents we had were given to us by God to be used for sharing the gospel message. I wondered if He wanted me to become a Christian writer.  In a study hall one day I prayed and said I needed a sign.  If God wanted me to write for Him, He would need to give me something to write about.  I began to think of the last words Jesus spoke on the cross, particularly "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," and I began to write.  I wrote a poem called, "Father Forgive Them" which is still my favorite.  This was the sign I had asked for, I was sure of it.  I was to become a Christian writer.  .Around this time I found out about a Christian correspondence course in writing and I thought that would get me started.  They also were supposed to help students of the course get jobs as writers.  I enrolled and took two courses from them, a basic course and a more advanced one.  I wrote a couple of short stories in the course but I could not find a publisher that would accept them.  I also could not get work in any profession where I could use my writing, so I just went to look for any job.  I thought I would have to do my writing part-time as a freelancer.  After trying a couple of jobs I failed at, when employment agencies worked for the worker not the companies, I was finally able to stay at one at Chicago-Kent College of Law, which has now become a part of IIT.  The professor was impressed with the way I could express myself in writing, and I got along very well with my co-workers. I told them of my real desire and let them read some of what I wrote I think. There were just a few of us, which was just right for me.  I was happy working there and a Jewish young man asked why I was so happy and I talked to him about my religious beliefs.  He was very respectful and curious about Christianity.   I was more interested in writing than in the job, which was becoming boring.  In down time, I would write and sometimes it would affect my performance.  I would be late getting back from a lunch break for example.  I was on the verge of being fired, but I quit before that.  This seems like a good stopping point for today.  I will continue it tomorrow.   

It’s Never Too Late!

Filed under: Hobbies — ccassello @ 12:08 am
I have just come from seeing the movie Julie and Julia and I was thinking of how I would like to start a blog the way Julie did and hopefully someday I too would be asked to write a book.  My problem is that I had no idea what I knew enough about, or had enough interest in to make an interesting blog.  Then, I came up with my subject, "It’s never too late," to follow a dream.  That is what I am in the processing of doing now at the age of 64.  Since I retired at the age of 62, I have regained an interest in a childhood dream of mine.

Even in elementary school I had the idea that I would like to be a writer.  English was my favorite school subject.  I loved writing essays, but would do them at the last minute because I did not like doing research.  I received my best grades in English classes and got A’s, B+ and rarely B- on my essays.  My friends and I would often make up our own stories based on TV shows and movies that we saw and I would entertain them with stories and puppet shows.  I put together a little book of some poems and I wrote a play.
By the time I was in high school I was having doubts about my ability to achieve that dream.  We were told we had to write about what we knew and as I led a very sheltered, boring life, I felt that I did not know enough.  My interests were too diverse to narrow down to specialize in any one field and I took liberal arts.  A reason I did not like to do research was that it would become so interesting if it was a subject that I liked that I would get off the track.  I had trouble deciding what approach to take and what facts to use.
My parents could not afford to send me to a four year college and did not feel that it was necessary and neither did I at the time.  I had read many times about writers who did freelance writing without having college degrees and I thought I would rather do that.  My parents encouraged me to go to junior college, which gave two years of college courses, and then get a job and save my money if I wanted to go on to a full four year college. I found out the the junior college was really teaching us what we should have learned in high school and much of the credits earned there were not transferable to other colleges.  I did take correspondence courses in writing while in school, but could not get any job in journalism, radio or television without having a college degree or being a student studying that field, so I had given up the idea.
I’ll save more of my story for a later blog, but for now I will say that I am writing again and enjoying it.  I want to encourage other senior citizens who may have had dreams that they gave up on to go back to those dreams and give them a chance.  It’s never too late!     

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